About Sally Ryan

Contemporary realist painter & portrait artist
Awarded Signature Status by the Portrait Society of America, 2018.

“I paint because beauty matters.”

Artist Statement

I choose to paint realistically because I believe that beauty resides in the truthful reality found in everyday life. I also derive enormous pleasure from seeing skilfully produced drawings and paintings and hold artists (both past and present), who demonstrate these skills, in such high esteem. There are many artists whose work inspires me but Vermeer, Repin, Kramskoi, and Annigoni are just a few of my favourites.

Drawing and painting realistically is my passion. It is also my way of looking, exploring and communicating an understanding of contemporary life as I experience it. It excites me to engage with the long history of realist painting by pursuing mastery of classical techniques and I equally enjoy sharing these skills and knowledge through teaching others.


Every person on this earth is undergoing, or has undergone, their own brand of turmoil of which few may understand. Whilst it is impossible for a portrait artist to simply step into a sitter’s shoes, through the careful scrutiny that a realist work requires, I seek to unveil the essence of a person’s being and represent it in a way that recognises the beauty inherent to the human condition.

“I seek to unveil the essence of a person’s being and represent it in a way that recognises the beauty inherent to the human condition.”

Sally Ryan is an Australian painter and portrait artist living and operating in Sydney. Her style is best described as contemporary realism with an emphasis on portraiture although her practice includes all genres of painting.

Before portraiture became her primary focus, Sally had worked for a number of years in both the graphic and ceramic arts. These practices laid the foundation for the patterning and detail her art is noted for today. The human subject, though, remained a point of interest throughout her career and after a few years of intensive study at the Julian Ashton Art School (including a Scholarship in 2010), portraiture and figurative art had become her passion.

Sally now works in oils, graphite and charcoal and has been recognized in competitions across Australia and internationally. She is a member of Portrait Artists Australia and has had works exhibited with this organisation at the Art House Gallery, NSW Parliament House and the Australian Embassy in Washington. In 2016 she had a portrait of the former premier, Ted Baillieu, unveiled in the Parliament of Victoria and also painted Judith Poole, retiring headmistress of Abbotsleigh Girls School.

Sally teaches portraiture and figure painting at the Julian Ashton Art School. She has a studio in Mt Kuring gai, Sydney, and is available for commissions.